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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
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Journal Archives

Kansas City Council Gives Green Light to Plans for Larger Streetcar Taxing District

MO: Kansas City Council Gives Green Light to Plans for Larger Streetcar Taxing District
Lynn Horsley

Source: The Kansas City Star
Created: January 24, 2014

Jan. 24--The Kansas City Council on Thursday gave the green light to preparations for a streetcar funding district that would encompass much of Kansas City south of the Missouri River.

If voters approve the new funding district, it will help pay for 8 to 10 more miles of streetcar extensions. The taxing district would run from State Line Road to Interstate 435 and from the Missouri River generally to 85th Street. The city is contemplating a 1-cent sales tax increase within the district, plus property tax assessments close to the streetcar lines.

Voters would have to approve the new district in an August election and the actual tax increases in a November election. The local funding would be part of a financing package that would include at least 50 percent federal funding. The local taxes would not take effect unless matching federal funds were also committed to the streetcar expansion, which probably wouldn't occur for several years.

Mayor Sly James said his meeting Wednesday with federal transportation officials in Washington, D.C., went very well and they were impressed with Kansas City's progress. But he said the process is very competitive and several other cities are also lobbying aggressively for federal streetcar funds. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.masstransitmag.com/news/11299468/kansas-city-council-gives-green-light-to-plans-for-larger-streetcar-taxing-district

San Francisco's bus wars are a proxy fight against gentrification

from the LA Times:

San Francisco's bus wars are a proxy fight against gentrification
As wealthy tech industry types move into some neighborhoods at the expense of current residents, the private buses carrying high-tech workers to their jobs have become a flashpoint.

By The Times editorial board
January 24, 2014

Commuter buses are usually pretty noncontroversial. Governments like them because they get single-passenger cars off the road and reduce air pollution. And riders like them because they can relax on the way to and from work and save on gas and other expenses. Cleaner, greener and more convenient — everyone's happy, right?

Not in San Francisco, where there's been a growing fight over the shuttle buses provided by Google, Facebook and other tech companies to ferry workers from their San Francisco homes to their Silicon Valley jobs. Critics say the shuttles stop at city bus stops, delaying public transit and causing bicyclists to swerve out of bike lanes. Activists have protested by blocking buses. In one case, they slashed the tires of a Google bus and hurled a rock through a window.

All this fury over some buses? Not really. The fight against the shuttles is really a proxy fight against rising rents and gentrification, as wealthy tech industry types move into some neighborhoods at the expense of current residents.

On Tuesday, San Francisco transportation officials adopted a compromise designed to address specific concerns with the shuttles. During an 18-month pilot program, the agency will designate public bus stops that can be shared by the shuttles. Tech companies will apply for permits for their buses and pay $1 each time one of the buses makes a stop, which will cover the cost of the permitting and enforcement. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-google-bus-san-francisco-20140123,0,5252076.story#ixzz2rWPeGBaz

Twin Cities: Metro Transit reports ridership gain for fourth year in a row

(Star-Tribune) Ridership on Metro Transit buses and trains increased for the fourth straight year as the agency provided nearly 81.4 million rides in 2013, according to figures released Thursday.

Boardings on the Northstar Commuter line were up 12 percent compared to the previous year and were among the reasons Metro Transit saw an overall increase of 315,000 rides system wide, agency officials said.

"Only twice in 32 years has Metro Transit ridership reached this level," said General Manager Brian Lamb. "In 2013, we provided five million more rides than just four years ago."

Surprisingly, the number of people using the Blue Line dipped 3.2 percent to just over 10.1 million. But gains on the Northstar Line (up by 86,963 rides) and urban bus service (up by 565,266 rides) more than offset the drop in ridership on the light-rail line from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America. Agency officials attributed the ridership drop on the Blue Line to weekend disruptions. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.startribune.com/local/blogs/241672341.html

"It's Hard to Say" if U.S. Bike Share Systems Will Survive Bixi's Bankruptcy -- Reporter

Earlier this week, Montreal's Bixi bike share program filed for bankruptcy. Now, a reporter closely following that company's sorry financial history says that could have implications for the Bixi-designed software used by many bike share systems in the U.S.

In an interview with NPR's Renee Montaigne, Andy Riga—the transportation reporter for the Montreal Gazette—says Bixi's financial troubles stem from loss of control of its software, which led to delays in cities including New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.

"If in fact Bixi fails, what does it means to other cities?" Montaigne asked. "Can they survive if Bixi doesn't?"

"That's hard to say," Riga responded, saying that there was talk New York and other systems might start over with software. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wnyc.org/story/its-hard-say-if-us-bike-share-systems-survive-bixi-bankruptcy-reporter/

Accidents Surge as Oil Industry Takes the Train

(NYT) CASSELTON, N.D. — Kerry’s Kitchen is where Casselton residents gather for gossip and comfort food, especially the caramel rolls baked fresh every morning. But a fiery rail accident last month only a half mile down the tracks, which prompted residents to evacuate the town, has shattered this calm, along with people’s confidence in the crude-oil convoys that rumble past Kerry’s seven times a day.

What was first seen as a stopgap measure in the absence of pipelines has become a fixture in the nation’s energy landscape — about 200 “virtual pipelines” that snake in endless processions across the horizon daily. It can take more than five minutes for a single oil train, made up of about 100 tank cars, to pass by Kerry’s, giving this bedroom community 20 miles west of Fargo a front-row seat to the growing practice of using trains to carry oil.

“I feel a little on edge — actually very edgy — every time one of those trains passes,” said Kerry Radermacher, who owns the coffee shop. “Most people think we should slow the production, and the trains, down.”

Casselton is near the center of the great oil and gas boom unleashed these last few years. And it has seen up close how trains have increasingly been used to transport the oil from the new fields of Colorado, Wyoming and North Dakota, in part as a result of delays in the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. About 400,000 carloads of crude oil traveled by rail last year to the nation’s refineries, up from 9,500 in 2008, according to the Association of American Railroads. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/26/business/energy-environment/accidents-surge-as-oil-industry-takes-the-train.html?hp&_r=0

Australian Open Men's Final SPOILER


The first player not named Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray to win a slam since 2009.

Jim Hightower: Lawmakers Are Free Not to Become Narcissistic Jerks

Lawmakers Are Free Not to Become Narcissistic Jerks

Saturday, 25 January 2014 10:42
By Jim Hightower, OtherWords | Op-Ed

Mark Twain spoke for me when he said: “I’m opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.”

One danger that such wealth brings is that many who have it become blinded to those who don't. Thus, the news that more than half of our Congress critters are now millionaires explains why it has been striving ceaselessly to provide more government giveaways to Wall Street bankers and other super-wealthy elites, while also striving to enact government takeaways from middle-class and poor families.

Congress Discovers Inequality in America, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Take the richest House member, Rep. Darrell Issa, with a net worth of $464 million. A right-wing California Republican, he has used his legislative powers to try denying health coverage to poor Americans, even as he tried to unravel the new restraints to keep Wall Street bankers from wrecking our economy again.

Issa and his ilk are proof that a lawmaker’s net worth is strictly a financial measure, not any indication at all of one’s actual value or “worthiness.”

I hasten to note that many millionaires in America have been able to rise above their financial handicap, serving the public interest rather than self or special interests. For example, when Rep. Chellie Pingree was elected to Congress in 2009, she was an organic farmer and innkeeper in rural Maine. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/21438-lawmakers-are-free-not-to-become-narcissistic-jerks

Midwest misery: Snow piles up to record levels

USA Today, via the Detroit Free Press:

Hey Midwesterners: If you think it's been a snowy winter, you're right: Because of the ongoing parade of winter storms, several cities, including Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, have seen more snow than they typically get for the entire season.

Indianapolis, which has had almost 2 feet of snow this month, may see its single snowiest month in the city's history, where records go back to just after the Civil War. (The snowiest month on record was January 1978, when 30.6 inches fell.)

The snow this month is busting the snow-removal budget in Indianapolis: The costs of salting, plowing and employee overtime are close to exhausting the city's $7.3 million snow-clearing budget, which is supposed to last for all of 2014.

Some of the snowy details from other locations: In Chicago, 45.4 inches of snow have fallen on the city this winter. In a full season, the Windy City typically sees 36.7 inches. In Detroit, 45.9 inches have fallen, more than the full season average of 42.7 inches, and there are at least two months left in winter. ............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20140125/NEWS06/301250061/Midwest-misery-Snow-piles-up-to-record-levels

Congress calls for USPS to suspend sales of historic post offices

from the Daily Californian:

Congress calls for USPS to suspend sales of historic post offices
By Jane Nho | Staff

Post Office at 2000 Allston Way in Berkeley

In response to the controversy surrounding the U.S. Postal Service’s efforts to sell the Berkeley post office and other historic post offices across the country, Congress called for the sales to be suspended in its recently passed $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill.

After the Postal Service announced its intent to sell Berkeley’s main post office in the summer of 2012, community members and local lawmakers alike, including Rep. Barbara Lee, rallied in opposition, accusing the USPS of disregarding federal preservation laws and ignoring the voices of the public.

The appropriations bill urges the USPS to halt the sale of historic post offices until the inspector general carries out a complete inspection of the postal system.

While Congress’ suggestion does not come with an enforcement mechanism, in the past, agencies have tended to heed its recommendations, said Carrie Adams, a spokesperson for Lee’s office. ..........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dailycal.org/2014/01/21/congress-calls-usps-suspend-historic-post-office-sales/

Michael Hudson: N is for Neo-Serfdom, O for Offshore Banking

N is for Neo-Serfdom, O for Offshore Banking

January 23, 2014
By Michael Hudson

Part N, O in The Insiders Economic Dictionary.

Neoclassical economics: The school that arose in the last quarter of the 19th century, stripping away the classical concept of economic rent as unearned income. By the late 20th century the term “neoclassical” had come to connote a deductive body of free-trade theory using circular reasoning by tautology, excluding discussion of property, debt and the financial sector’s role in general, taking the existing institutional environment for granted. (See Marginalism and Parallel Universe, and contrast with Structural Problem and Systems Analysis.)

Neoconservatives: Ideologues who oppose government authority and taxation of wealth, except where governments are controlled by the financial and property sectors. Neoconservatives view democratic governments that impose progressive income taxes to finance public infrastructure and other economic welfare as being as reprehensible as the pre-democratic regimes criticized by Adam Smith and other early liberals protesting against governments controlled by autocratic monarchs spending tax revenue largely on the wars and colonial ventures. Neoconservatives in fact tend to support wars to enforce the Washington Consensus throughout the world.

Neoliberalism: The philosophy that public ownership and regulation is inherently less efficient than management by financial operators. The policy conclusion is that the public domain and government enterprises should be privatized and the sales proceeds used to roll back taxes on the highest wealth and income brackets. Unlike the liberalism of Adam Smith and subsequent free-trade economists, neoliberalism endorses an intrusive role of government to protect property and financial fortunes without regard to long-term tendency for the exponential growth of debt to exceed and indeed undercut the economy’s ability to pay. (See Internal Contradiction, Junk Science, Neoconservatives and Social Market.)

Neo-serfdom: The removal of choice from peoples’ lives as interest and rent charges reduce their discretionary income. This expanding rentier overhead is not part of the mode of production, but rather the mode of finance, wealth and economic power. (See Serfdom.) .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://michael-hudson.com/2014/01/n-is-for-neo-serfdom-o-is-for-offshore-banking/

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