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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: 67,879

Journal Archives

NY: Clock ticking on Hudson crossings, Amtrak warns

Railroad tracks leading to New York City’s Penn Station from under the Hudson River. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

The end may be near for the New York region's cross-harbor rail tunnels, with no good alternative in sight.

“I’m being told we got something less than 20 years before we have to shut one or two down,” said Amtrak C.E.O. Joseph Boardman at the Regional Plan Association’s conference last week at the Waldorf Astoria. “Something less than 20. I don’t know if that something less than 20 is seven, or some other number. But to build two new ones, you’re talking seven to nine years to deliver, if we all decided today that we could do it."

Tom Wright, the Regional Plan Association’s executive director, described Boardman’s remarks as “a big shock.”

“I’ve been hearing abstractly people at Amtrak and other people at New Jersey Transit say for years the tunnels are over 100 years old and we have to be worried about them,” he said. “To actually have Joe put something concrete on the table, less than 20 years … Within my office, there was a level of, ‘Wow, this is really serious.'” ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2014/05/8544757/clock-ticking-hudson-crossings-amtrak-warns

Orlando: SunRail Exceeding Ridership Expectations: Officials

Estimated boardings on SunRail for Thursday and Friday last week were more than 10,000 both days — about twice the number predicted.

To cope with demand, Orlando's brand-new commuter rail service is adding an extra mid-day train, and Volusia County officials are adding weekday shuttle service to the DeBary station from two parking areas.

But ridership is expected to return to around 5,000 riders daily once passengers have to start paying in the middle of the month.

Meanwhile, Rep. John Mica says while he missed SunRail's inauguration, he’s looking forward to trying out the train. .............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/sunrail-exceeding-ridership-expectations-officials/

UAW Calls in the Cavalry to Combat ‘Culture of Fear’ at Nissan Plant

(In These Times) Several years ago, the United Auto Workers began a campaign to unionize roughly 4,000 workers at the Nissan auto plant in Canton, Mississippi. Organizers knew from experience that they would have to reach beyond the factory walls for support in order to achieve their goal. In many ways, the campaign has already made that leap—students at local college campuses have created support groups, and workers as far away as Brazil recently rallied to support a worker whom management had disciplined for his pro-union activities.

And on Monday, April 28, the UAW took that mission another step further. Along with the union federation IndustriALL, it officially requested that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), an influential organization of 34 relatively wealthy industrial countries, initiate a review of Nissan’s observance of OECD labor rights standards.

Under this procedure, the “National Contact Point” (NCP) of the United States—a State Department official—would review Nissan’s labor rights record and invite the participation of officials from the UAW, IndustriALL, Japan (Nissan’s corporate home), France (the base for Renault, a major investor in Nissan), and the Netherlands (corporate base for the Renault-Nissan Alliance).

If the unions and the corporation both agree to participate in the process, the American NCP will gather facts about the Canton plant for three months, most likely carrying on confidential talks with the NCPs from other countries. Eventually, he could recommend bringing in a mediator, likely the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Generally, some agreement is reached—or the case is closed—within a year’s time. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/16646/uaw_reminds_nissan_that_the_world_is_watching

Frogs, blood water, locusts, boils ..... and the Cheney family

Lynne Cheney, wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, suggested the Clintons are behind Monica Lewinsky's new essay in Vanity Fair.

Lewinsky is speaking out for the first time in years about her affair with former President Bill Clinton and the internet fallout that followed in the latest issue of the magazine, which will be available digitally on May 8 and on newsstands May 13. She credited her decision to come forward after years of silence to Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old who committed suicide after video of him kissing another man was broadcast online.

But Cheney suggested former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential contender, could be behind the essay.

"I really wonder if this isn't an effort on the Clintons' part to get that story out of the way," Cheney said during an interview with Fox News' Laura Ingraham, who guest-hosted "The O'Reilly Factor" Tuesday night. "Would Vanity Fair publish anything about Monica Lewinsky that Hillary didn't want in Vanity Fair?" ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/07/lynne-cheney-monica-lewinsky_n_5279874.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power

from truthdig:

All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power
Posted on May 6, 2014

The following excerpt is from Truthdig contributor Nomi Prins’ bestselling new book “All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances That Drive American Power.” In this section, Prins writes about the period during the administration of Lyndon Johnson when bankers began to move away from the president as they saw their global ambitions hemmed in by the Vietnam War.

Johnson and the Bankers’ Economy

In his spirited inaugural speech on January 20, 1965, Johnson declared, “In a land of great wealth, families must not live in hopeless poverty. In a land rich in harvest, children just must not go hungry.”

He made good on his word. When Johnson began his second term, 20 percent of people in America were living in poverty. Between 1965 and 1968 he raised federal expenditures addressing the War on Poverty from $6 billion to $12 billion (Nixon would double the figure again to $24.5 billion by 1974). That spending, in conjunction with a booming economy, made a big impact. When Johnson left office in 1969, the poverty rate in America had dropped to 14 percent.

On February 18, 1965, Johnson increased his focus on his friends in finance. He invited Rockefeller, Weinberg, and other prominent bankers to an intimate White House dinner to discuss his voluntary program for an early reduction in the balance of payments deficit. His plan would require each of their firms to curtail their international transactions so as to limit dollar outflow, a request that brought the ire of Wriston when it came from Kennedy but solicited no such reprimand under Johnson.


Regarding the Great Society, bankers were also becoming lukewarm. In truth, the success of those policies mattered less to bankers than overseas growth did. As long as bankers were making money and increasing their global influence, what happened domestically was of secondary importance; providing support to Johnson was no hardship. But now they were growing wary of backing Johnson’s efforts. In 1966 Johnson signed the Participation Sales Act, which encouraged substitution of public credit with private credit. The initiative, started by Eisenhower and extended by President Kennedy’s 1962 Committee on Federal Credit programs, was meant to be a favor to the bankers.

By replacing $3.3 billion in outstanding public debt (through government-issued bonds) with private debt (or bank-issued bonds), the government effectively converted public loans into private loans for the banks, giving them $3.3 billion of business guaranteed by the US government. Soon after the bill was signed, Johnson’s aide Robert Kintner suggested that Johnson form a confidential program to determine how “important business, financial, and industrial leaders feel toward the job being done by the President and particularly how they feel in relation to the Vietnam operation, the President’s European and Latin American policies, the character and duration of prosperity, and the President’s economic, financial and social policies.” The survey would be based on off-the-record interviews with prominent figures including David Rockefeller, Sidney Weinberg, Roger Blough, and Bobby Lehman. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/all_the_presidents_bankers_the_hidden_alliances_that_drive_american_power_2

Wide Majorities Losing Faith In John Roberts' Supreme Court, Want Term Limits

An overwhelming majority of voters would support sweeping reforms to the Supreme Court, as trust and confidence in the institution has eroded in recent years, according to a new survey by the Democratic-aligned firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner.

Wide majorities disagree with the recent 5-4 party-line rulings that have upended a century of campaign finance law and tilted the rules in favor of the extremely wealthy and major corporations. The landmark Citizens United ruling was opposed by a whopping 80-18 margin. The more recent McCutcheon decision, which lifted caps on total giving, was said by a 51 percent majority to be likely to create more corruption, while 8 percent suggested it would lead to less.

By a 60-36 spread, those surveyed said that Supreme Court justices were more likely to be carrying out a personal or political agenda than working to render a fair and impartial judgment, an opinion that cut across party lines. John Roberts swore before Congress during his confirmation hearings that he had great respect for precedent. But once confirmed as chief justice, he embarked on a remarkable run of conservative judicial activism that has favored the wealthy while undermining affirmative action and protection for voting rights.

Overall approval of the Supreme Court has been falling since its 5-4 Bush v. Gore decision handed the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000, according to Gallup. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/07/supreme-court-poll_n_5279535.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

Cecily McMillan Verdict Proves Dissent Is Dangerous

Cecily McMillan Verdict Proves Dissent Is Dangerous

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 10:55
By Anne Meador, DC Media Group | Op-Ed

The conviction of Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan for assault on a police officer shows that the judiciary is corrupt and dissent will not be tolerated. We can no longer call ourselves a democratic society, and as Chris Hedges says, we are living in the “post-constitutional era.”

Since 9/11, the justification given for incremental loss of our freedoms has been “keeping us safe from terrorism.” But in truth, governments always seek to accrue more power to control their populaces in service to elite economic interests. It is an imperative which pre-dated 9/11, but one that afterwards spiraled out of control.

A heightened state of fear, a subliminal awareness of being expendable in the neo-liberal economy and the distraction of consumer culture have kept the majority of Americans in paralysis. In the meantime, institutions which protected our rights have been systematically undermined. This, unfortunately, is the regime we now live under:

The Authoritarian State

Dissent will not be tolerated. Cecily McMillan was prosecuted for assaulting a police officer when she herself was assaulted. Prosecuting her for felony assault with severe penalties serves only one purpose: to deter further protest and scare the rest of us into submission. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/23526-cecily-mcmillan-verdict-proves-dissent-is-dangerous

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, chronically Republican

New Mexico Governor Martinez Accused of "Wholesale Disregard of the Law"

Tuesday, 06 May 2014 09:15
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report

Tracy Hughes was a career employee in the New Mexico Environment Department who was just three months away from being eligible for retirement when she was fired by an appointee of New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.

"It was clear from the campaign (of right-wing Tea Party Gov. Martinez) I was going to be gone," Hughes told Truthout. "The environment agency was clearly going to be targeted to clear out employees and prepare a new agenda for the Martinez administration."

The Martinez administration calls itself "business friendly," but Hughes, along with environmental lawyers, activists, authors, renewable energy advocates, and current and former state employees told Truthout that Gov. Martinez is little more than a lobbyist for big oil and gas, the copper and dairy industries, and other environmentally destructive industries that decide to set up shop in New Mexico.

"The Martinez administration will make sure that environmental protection does not get in the way of industry being able to do business in New Mexico," Hughes, who now works for an energy and environmental law firm, added. As an example, she pointed to the "copper rule," legislation the Martinez administration passed that allows copper mines to pollute the groundwater on their property. "I worked on (opposing) the copper rule, and what I saw happen on the copper rule was that it was wholesale disregard of the law by the Martinez administration," Hughes said. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/23511-new-mexico-governor-martinez-accused-of-wholesale-disregard-of-the-law

NARAL Ramps Up Attacks On Obama Nominee Michael Boggs: 'He's Worse Than We Thought'

WASHINGTON -- The reproductive rights advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America will launch a new attack Tuesday on one of President Barack Obama's most embattled judicial nominees, Michael Boggs, pointing to new evidence of Boggs' right-wing record on abortion rights when he served as a Georgia state legislator.

In an email that will be sent to supporters Tuesday evening, NARAL president Ilyse Hogue says the group has uncovered votes that Boggs cast in favor of "personhood" legislation and in favor of a bill requiring abortion providers to put detailed information on the Internet, including how often they provided abortion services. The "personhood" measure would have granted legal rights to fertilized eggs.

"It turns out that judicial nominee Michael Boggs is even worse than we thought. We just uncovered evidence that Boggs voted for a bill that would have laid the groundwork for 'personhood,' which is one step away from overturning Roe v. Wade," reads the email, obtained by The Huffington Post ahead of its release.

On top of that, Boggs' vote for legislation requiring doctors to list how often they provided abortion services is "exactly the kind of list that we've seen violent anti-choice extremists use to harass and terrorize doctors at their homes and offices," the email continues. "Our allies on the Senate Judiciary Committee need to hear from you today so they know how important it is to ask Michael Boggs about his complete record." ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/06/naral-obama-michael-boggs-abortion_n_5275016.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000013

Organized Labor, Public Banks and the Grassroots: Keys to a Worker-Owned Economy

by Matt Stannard.

Worker-owned cooperatives build economic democracy, but how do we build more worker-owned cooperatives? Here are three valuable allies to help us get there.

Before his death in February, Jackson Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Lumumba was helping his constituents chart an economic plan whose main component was worker-owned cooperatives. In her recent article about Lumumba and cooperatives, Laura Flanders cites Collective Courage author Jessica Gordon Nembhard’s point that African-American leaders from Marcus Garvey to W.E.B. DuBois were proponents of cooperatives. DuBois, Garvey and Lumumba understood that worker democracy was necessary for economic sovereignty and community solidarity.

For Richard Wolff, whose most recent book is Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism, this time-honored form is also the key to arenewed movement for economic democracy. For Wolff, a synergy of labor and the left around worker-owned cooperatives promises to be an “unapologetically anticapitalist” strategy, challenging “the essence of the capitalist organization of production—the employer-employee relationship” and reshaping it in an egalitarian fashion.

And it’s a cause more and more people on the economic periphery – and their allies in economic justice movements – are taking up. More workers are taking the plunge, too, from solar energy co-ops that provide infrastructure for renewable energy, to the 25 worker cooperatives in Queens, including the newly formed Pa’lante Green Cleaning. Here, people committed to a new economy are practicing and preaching to, as Wolff puts it, “take over the enterprise,” bypass Wall Street and economic oligarchy, and build new economic structures either in defiance of, or alongside, old ones. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://rdwolff.com/content/organized-labor-public-banks-and-grassroots-keys-worker-owned-economy

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