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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

Robert Scheer: The Terror Con

from truthdig:

The Terror Con

Posted on Jun 18, 2013
By Robert Scheer

For defense contractors, the government officials who write them mega checks, and the hawks in the media who cheer them on, the name of the game is threat inflation. And no one has been better at it than the folks at Booz Allen Hamilton, the inventors of the new boondoggle called cyber warfare.

That’s the company, under contract with the National Security Agency, that employed whistle-blower Edward Snowden, the information security engineer whose revelation of Booz Allen’s enormously profitable and pervasive spying on Americans now threatens the firm’s profitability and that of its parent hedge fund, the Carlyle Group.

Booz Allen, whose top personnel served in key positions at the NSA and vice versa after the inconvenient collapse of the Cold War, has been attempting to substitute terrorist for communist as the enemy of choice. A difficult switch indeed for the military-industrial complex about which Dwight Eisenhower, the general-turned-president, had so eloquently warned us.

But just when the good times for war profiteers seemed to be forever in the past, there came 9/11 and the terrorist enemy, the gift that keeps on giving, for acts of terror always will occur in a less than perfect world, serving as an ideal excuse for squandering resources, as well as our freedoms. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_terror_con_20130618/

How Obamacare Could Flatline: Employers are doing their best to exploit loopholes in the ACA ......

from In These Times:

How Obamacare Could Flatline
Employers are doing their best to exploit loopholes in the ACA, and that’s just one of many perils.

BY David Moberg

Since it was signed into law in 2010, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has survived a constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court and 37 attempts by congressional Republicans to kill it. Now, as the deadline for implementation of the legislation looms, “Obamacare” faces another hurdle: making the ambitious, byzantine plan actually work.

By October 1, the Obama administration must have the people and procedures in place to administer the vast new program mandated by the ACA. That could turn into a “train wreck,” warns Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.)—who, as chair of one of the committees writing the legislation, made a wreck hard to avoid. The plan then needs to sign up as many of the 49 million uninsured Americans as quickly as possible, especially the young and healthy, to make the new system financially viable.

Even if the agencies involved clear the initial hurdle of enrollment, a host of other problems loom. Fundamentally, the ACA could fall short of its goal of providing better and more affordable healthcare for most Americans. And at the same time that the new plan provides insurance for millions of uninsured Americans, for many others its implementation could spell trouble: slashed work hours, a proliferation of burdensome insurance plans with expensive deductibles, and the dissolution of the multi-employer health plans that provide stable insurance to many union members.

Obstacles to Obamacare’s successful launch stem from five sources: how Congress wrote the law, continued Republican sabotage attempts, employers using the law’s provisions to cut costs (and hurt workers), the regulations the federal government is writing to implement it, and concessions the administration made to opponents. Republicans have stridently opposed Obamacare, and employers have focused on maximizing their own advantage, but even some stalwart defenders—especially labor unions—are now criticizing the implementation of the ACA as falling far short of its limited promise. ...............................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/15092/obamacare_how_it_could_flatline/

Bob McDonnell, Virginia Gov., Billed Taxpayers For Sunscreen, Dog Vitamins: Report

WASHINGTON, June 17 (Reuters) - Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife used taxpayer money to pay for sunscreen and dog vitamins, the Washington Post reported on Monday, a disclosure that comes as the Republican leader is said to be under scrutiny by the FBI.

The newspaper, citing spending records it obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also said the McDonnells used state employees to run personal errands for their adult children and billed the state for deodorant, shoe repairs and a digestive system "detox cleanse."

The Washington Post has previously reported that McDonnell, who has been mentioned as a possible presidential contender in 2016, was under investigation by the FBI and a grand jury over a $15,000 catering bill from his daughter's wedding in 2011 that was paid for by a campaign donor.

A McDonnell spokesman, Tucker Martin, told the newspaper that the couple had sought to distinguish personal expenses from state ones while living in the governor's mansion. McDonnell was elected governor in 2009 and state law bars him from reelection. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/17/bob-mcdonnell-virginia_n_3453612.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037

Where Uncle Sam Ought to Be Snooping

from Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality:

Where Uncle Sam Ought to Be Snooping
June 16, 2013

Let’s place private corporations with government contracts under surveillance — to make sure no one is getting rich off our tax dollars.

By Sam Pizzigati

Only 23 percent of Americans, says a new Reuters poll, consider former National Security Agency employee Edward Snowden a “traitor” for blowing the whistle on the federal government’s massive surveillance of the nation’s telecom system.

Many Americans, the poll data clearly suggest, find the idea of government agents snooping through their phone calls and emails a good bit unnerving.

But Americans have more on the surveillance front to worry about than overzealous government agents. Government personnel aren’t actually doing the snooping the 29-year-old Snowden revealed. NSA officials have contracted this snooping out — to private corporate contractors.

These surveillance contracts, in turn, are making contractor executives exceedingly rich. And none have profited personally more than the power suits who run Booz Allen Hamilton and the private equity Carlyle Group. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://toomuchonline.org/where-uncle-sam-ought-to-be-snooping/#sthash.5BrKUbgB.dpuf

Toronto Transit Commission: Third-busiest mass transit system in North America (video)

US troops are stationed in Japan to protect the nation. But to sex workers in Okinawa, they .......

Special Report: US troops are stationed in Japan to protect the nation. But to sex workers in Okinawa, they bring fear, not security

(Independent UK) Business is slow in Okinawa’s biggest red-light district. Touts stand idle beneath neon signs advertising “soap-land” brothels, where prostitutes lather male clients for money. A handful of men loiter to peer at the photos of women pasted on billboards outside, though few appear willing to part with Y15,000 (£100) to spend an hour with one inside. Desperate as some of the businesses are, however, many still decline one type of customer: US military servicemen.

“Too much trouble,” explains one tout working the Tsuji-machi district of Naha, Okinawa’s capital. The soap-land businesses that do admit Americans tend to pair them with older, more experienced women. “They scare the younger girls,” says another tout. “Especially when they have had a few drinks.”

Okinawa has lived uneasily for decades with its huge American military presence. US bases occupy nearly 20 per cent of the crowded main island of Japan’s southernmost prefecture, as part of Tokyo’s half-century alliance with Washington. The US maintains 14 military installations on Okinawa housing roughly 25,000 men and women – the Marine Corps Northern Training Area alone occupies close to 40 square miles, and includes the world’s only jungle warfare training centre.

The controversies associated with such a huge deployment are legion; in 1969, shortly after the start of the Vietnam war, 13,000 tons of poison gas including sarin and VX leaked from a storage base in Okinawa, causing residents to be evacuated and environmental damage that prevailed for years. There have also been a series of recent allegations that Agent Orange was extensively stored there – claims that the US military has denied, following its own internal investigations. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/special-report-us-troops-are-stationed-in-japan-to-protect-the-nation-but-to-sex-workers-in-okinawa-they-bring-fear-not-security-8661078.html

Portland’s Light Rail to Power Trains With Regenerative Braking

(Wired) The upcoming TriMet Portland-Milwaukie light rail line has been designed so that power captured from braking trains can power accelerating ones.

The concept is quite similar to a hybrid car with regenerative brakes, except the battery isn’t on board. In fact, there’s no battery at all. The Siemens Sitras SES system that’s set to be installed in Oregon actually uses a massive supercapacitor to store up juice.

In addition to recapturing energy that would’ve otherwise been lost as heat during braking, the supercapacitor also works to meet ever-changing power demand. Trains have frequent voltage peaks when they’re accelerating. If multiple trains are accelerating at the same time, voltage demand exceeds the available supply. If you’ve ever been on a subway or light rail car that suddenly stopped for no reason at rush hour, you know exactly how frustrating this can be.

That’s where the supercapacitor comes in. Since it’s stored energy from braking trains, it can help maintain a constant voltage level or even provide enough electricity to meet a spike in demand. Such a setup reduces possible service interruptions, and also allows TriMet to avoid the costly installation of a utility substation along the line. ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/06/portland-light-rail/

Detroit Metro Times: The Complete Streets initiative for Woodward

Walk the Walk
The Complete Streets initiative for Woodward

By Curt Guyette
Published: June 12, 2013

The do-gooders over at the Woodward Avenue Action Association have a vision and, unlike most of the crew here at News Hits, those visions aren’t the result of ingesting something plucked off a cactus.

Which is a very good thing because those giant buttons could really mess things up when you’re trying to do something as significant as make meaningful changes to something as historic as Woodward Avenue.

You did know that the famed roadway featured the first mile of concrete road anywhere, right? Of course you did.

That brings us, in our own wayward way, to the W3A’s Complete Streets initiative.

What’s that? ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://metrotimes.com/news/news-hits/walk-the-walk-1.1503556

This is what your supermarket would look like if all the bees died off


from Grist:

This is what your supermarket would look like if all the bees died off
By Holly Richmond

From bee-killing companies pretending to love bees to researchers frantically trying to create a disease-resistant superbee, it’s been kind of a rough week for bees, who have already been having a rough couple of years due to dying off left and right. But why should you care? It’s not like bees are delivering your mail or making you dinner or sewing your clothes, Cinderella-style.

But bees DO pollinate a bunch of shit that you probably like to eat. Need a visual? Check out these before and after pics from Whole Foods that illustrate the amount of produce that would vanish if all the bees died off:

According to Whole Foods:

One of every three bites of food comes from plants pollinated by honeybees and other pollinators. Yet, major declines in bee populations threaten the availability of many fresh ingredients consumers rely on for their dinner tables.

To raise awareness of just how crucial pollinators are to our food system, the University Heights Whole Foods Market store temporarily removed all produce that comes from plants dependent on pollinators. They pulled from shelves 237 of 453 products – 52 percent of the department’s normal product mix.

Freaky, right? At least we’ll still have chili-cheese Fritos.

Fracked Up

SAN FRANCISCO — The latest domestic energy boom is sweeping through some of the nation's driest pockets, drawing millions of gallons of water to unlock oil and gas reserves from beneath the Earth's surface.

Hydraulic fracturing, or the drilling technique commonly known as fracking, has been used for decades to blast huge volumes of water, fine sand and chemicals into the ground to crack open valuable shale formations.

But now, as energy companies vie to exploit vast reserves west of the Mississippi, fracking's new frontier is expanding to the same lands where crops have shriveled and waterways have dried up due to severe drought.

In Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming, the vast majority of the counties where fracking is occurring are also suffering from drought, according to an Associated Press analysis of industry-compiled fracking data and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's official drought designations. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/16/colorado-fracking_n_3450170.html?ir=Politics&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

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