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Name: Chris Bastian
Gender: Male
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Home country: USA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 85,596

Journal Archives

The world's happiest countries for 2023


For the sixth year in a row, Finland is the world’s happiest country, according to World Happiness Report rankings based largely on life evaluations from the Gallup World Poll.

The Nordic country and its neighbors Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Norway all score very well on the measures the report uses to explain its findings: healthy life expectancy, GDP per capita, social support, low corruption, generosity in a community where people look after each other and freedom to make key life decisions.

But since we can’t all move to Finland, is there something other societies can learn from these rankings?

“Is it, are they doing things that we wish we’d seen before and we can start doing? Or is it something unique about their climate and history that make them different? And fortunately, at least from my perspective, the answer is the former,” said Helliwell, who is a professor emeritus at the Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia.

Miami Beach rejects nightly curfew after 2 fatal shootings during spring break


The Miami Beach City Commission voted Monday to not set a curfew for this upcoming weekend, but the panel did pass a measure ordering liquor stores to close early after two deadly shootings riled the popular Florida spring break location.

During a special meeting in the wake of the fatal shootings, some commissioners argued the third weekend of spring break – which just passed – is typically the time period that sees violence. Two commissioners argued it would be unfair to punish future crowds for what happened last weekend.

The move comes as the area is set to host the popular Ultra Music Festival, which is set to bring tens of thousands of electronic music fans to Bayfront Park, according to the Greater Miami convention bureau.

Four commissioners, a majority, voted no on the proposal. Six of the panel’s seven members voted in favor of forcing liquor stores to close at 6 p.m. ET.

Los Angeles Schools to Shut Down After Workers Vow to Strike

Source: New York Times

LOS ANGELES — Tens of thousands of Los Angeles school employees will begin a three-day strike starting on Tuesday, forcing hundreds of campuses to close and canceling classes for 422,000 students.

The union that represents 30,000 support workers in the Los Angeles Unified School District is seeking a 30 percent pay increase, saying that many employees make little more than the minimum wage and struggle to afford the cost of living in Southern California.

The Los Angeles teachers’ union has asked its 35,000 members to walk out in solidarity and to avoid crossing the support workers’ picket lines.

“We must formally announce that all schools across LAUSD will be closed to students tomorrow,” Alberto Carvalho, the superintendent of the district, said on Twitter on Monday night.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/article/los-angeles-school-strike.html

Strains Emerge Inside the Union That Beat Amazon

New York Times

One year after its surprise victory at a Staten Island warehouse, the only union in the country representing Amazon workers has endured a series of setbacks and conflicts that have caused longtime supporters to question if it will survive.

In interviews, a dozen people who have been closely involved with the Amazon Labor Union said the union had made little progress bringing Amazon to the bargaining table, to say nothing of securing a contract. Many cited lopsided losses at two other warehouses, unstable funding and an internal feud that has made it difficult for the union to alter a strategy that they considered flawed.

At the heart of the feud is a dispute between the union’s president, Christian Smalls, and several longtime organizers.

Mr. Smalls’s former allies complain that he has pursued elections at other warehouses without strong support from workers or a plan to ensure victory. They say he has focused on travel and public appearances while neglecting the contract fight at the Staten Island warehouse, known as JFK8, where Amazon is still contesting the election result.

Iowa's sharp right turn: From centrist state to 'Florida of the North'

Washington Post

DES MOINES — Republicans in the Iowa legislature, empowered by the state’s recent “red wave,” have embarked on an ambitious new agenda that includes a costly school choice bill and legislation targeting the LGBTQ community, a historic divergence from Iowa’s history as a civil rights bastion.

Even as teens draped in rainbow flags crowded into the Capitol rotunda chanting “We say gay” on March 8, Iowa lawmakers quickly passed three bills related to gay and transgender rights, culminating with a measure to ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth that is awaiting Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’s signature.

The votes were not only emphatic but were also a sharp reversal for the state: Iowa has veered so far to the right in recent years that its political landscape is virtually unrecognizable from the centrist place that chose Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and was one of the earliest states in the country to affirm same-sex marriage. A joke among statehouse reporters is that Iowa is becoming the “Florida of the North” — without the beaches.

“This isn’t the Iowa I know,” said Lee Schott, pastor of Valley United Methodist Church in West Des Moines, who called herself “progressive” politically. She was standing outside the House chamber on a recent weekday, hoping to lobby Republican legislators against the transgender bills — and not having much luck.

Live from New York, it's.....


Seattle's bleak downtown light-rail stations have nowhere to go but up

Mass Transit

Mar. 19—Thousands of passengers who enter the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel learned a while ago to sidestep broken escalators marked by yellow barricades, avoid the fentanyl smokers huddled outside certain entrances and take shallow breaths inside fetid elevators.

They've endured service shutdowns, like the electrical flaw in the emergency ventilation fans Feb. 14 that closed all four downtown stations all day.

On rare occasions, transit users have suffered assaults, the worst a year ago when a random attacker threw a nurse down a staircase at the International District/Chinatown Station. Passengers encounter people in mental health crises, unsure whether to get help or steer clear.

Westlake Station, a central hub where 13,000 riders a day boarded Sound Transit light rail before COVID-19, has lost one-third of its customers. Office vacancies and work-from-home are the main reasons, but officials admit more people would ride if downtown stations were pleasant.

The homelessness/crime issue in downtown Seattle is real, not some fantasy story cooked up by businesses looking to close downtown stores.

"Arest Biden Not Trump".....

Politico: Senate absences multiply headaches for both parties

The last time all 100 senators were on the floor voting together was more than seven months ago. And it’s starting to take a toll on both parties.

This Congress features one of history’s oldest Senates, a fact that’s fueled ongoing debate about gerontocracy in government. Yet it’s not just age keeping one member — and sometimes six or more — from the floor: Blame a confluence of illnesses, family matters and impending retirements dating well into last year.

Just last week, five senators missed every vote, with several out for extended absences. And it doesn’t look like all 100 senators will be back this week.

It’s not an idle matter, either: Both parties’ attendance issues are affecting Senate business, from crucial floor votes to the mundane business of committee hearings. The Senate last had all 100 members in attendance on Aug. 7, when Democrats passed their party-line energy, health care and tax bill.


It's been suggested that President Macron could lose his office due to a no confidence vote....

....after forcing through his retirement age change. This is not true.

If you bother to read the Constitution of France, you will understand that there are two components: the "President" and the "Government".

The PRESIDENT is elected directly by the people and serves a fixed term of five years, with the possibility of re-election to a second term (Article 6)

The GOVERNMENT is the legislative National Assembly and Senate, led by a Prime Minister appointed by the President (Article 8). The Government can be dissolved upon a no confidence vote resulting in the PM tendering the Government's resignation. Upon dissolution, new elections for the National Assembly and Senate will be held within 20-40 days (Article 12). However, the President remains in office.
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