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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 72,481

Journal Archives

SEIU State Council Reverses Course, Endorses Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s Run Against Rahm Emanuel

(In These Times) The SEIU Illinois State Council has decided to endorse Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in his run against Rahm Emanuel for mayor of the City of Chicago, reversing the council's previous decision to remain neutral in the race—and overriding the desires of SEIU Local 73 to maintain that neutrality.

The Chicago Tribune reported this afternoon that while an official announcement of the endorsement would come tomorrow, the council had made the decision today. Jerry Morrison, a "political operative" at Local 1, told the paper, "We usually play to win in politics, and (the union's involvement in the race) will be significant."

Not all SEIU staffers were pleased with the decision. Matt Brandon, Secretary-Treasurer for Local 73—whose union had previously filed an internal cease-and-desist request against HCII for its endorsement of Garcia—said his local attempted to block the vote. "We raised several objections at the meeting to procedure and rules, but of course we were overruled," Brandon told the Tribune before accusing the other two locals of being radicals:

"They are trying to create more of a socialist agenda," Brandon said, while his local is trying to take more of a realist approach. "I just think the mayor has done a lot for our members."

Similarly, in early March, Brandon told In These Times he "totally disagreed" with the widespread characterization of Emanuel as an anti-union mayor, saying Local 73 had been able to secure key gains from the mayor. .............(more)


Media Silence on Libya

Media Silence on Libya

Saturday, 14 March 2015 00:00
By Margaret Kimberley, Black Agenda Report | Op-Ed

Despite the all-encompassing belief in democracy and a free press, Americans have very little democracy left and perhaps the worst media in the world. Even people who make efforts to be informed don’t know what is happening domestically and internationally because of the constant lies and disinformation they are exposed to by the corporate media. They act as spokespersons for the powerful instead of providing analysis and information for readers and viewers. The result is a world turned upside down, with lies being sold as the truth. Libya is just the latest example of press malfeasance.

In 2011 the leaders of NATO appeared to pull off the perfect crime. That year they used the Arab Spring democracy movement as a cover to destroy Libya, kill its president, Muammar Gaddafi, and turn that nation over to jihadists supported by the Persian gulf monarchs.

Regime change was the only issue ever on the agenda. They used the dubious doctrine of Responsibility to Protect, R2P, as a means of getting away with murder. This was no mysterious conspiracy either. The American secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said quite publicly that her government wanted Gaddafi dead. “We hope that he can be captured or killed soon,” said the characteristically undiplomatic diplomat. After the deed was done she again spoke openly about killing a head of state. “We came, we saw, he died.”


It is staggering to see the depth of manipulation directed at the people of this country. If the president openly calls for the overthrow of a sovereign state, networks and newspapers go along and regurgitate every word. When the project goes south, no one who bragged about it in 2011 will now admit to their role in the disaster and the press continues to repeat official policy like the good little scribes they have always been.

The ISIS story has been dumbed down to tired analysis about a clash of civilizations and whether or not Islam is a religion of peace. Muslims can be peaceful or warlike but the hand of American involvement and the silence about it is the real story. ...........(more)


USDA Report Offers Insight on the Impact of Local Food Systems

A recent U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report to Congress reports that local and regional food sales in the United States totaled US$6.1 billion in 2012—an increase from the reported US$4.8 billion in 2008. This amount accounts for the selling of food from local farms, “for human consumption through both direct-to-consumer (e.g., farmers’ markets) and intermediated marketing channels (e.g., sales to institutions or regional distributors).” The report findings provide an updated assessment of the growing trend in both the production and consumption of local food in the United States.

Local food sales are accounted from the 7.8 percent of U.S. farms that identify as “marketing food locally.” Of those farms, 70 percent facilitated sales solely through direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing channels, while the remaining 30 percent operated entirely through intermediated marketing channels, or a combination of both. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of DTC farms and number of DTC sales demonstrated a correlating increase of 17 percent and 32 percent. However, from 2007- 2012, data exhibited only a slight increase of 5.5 percent in the number of DTC farms in the U.S., “with no change in DTC sales.” Dr. Sara A. Low of the Economic Research Service (ERS) suggests that the plateau in DTC sales could have resulted from a lull in consumer interests, an increase in sales transactions through intermediated marketing channels, or a byproduct of the recession.

The USDA report also indicates that between 2007 and 2012, there was a decrease in the value of DTC sales, while sales through intermediated marketing channels exhibited great returns. In fact, 80 percent of the US$6.1 billion in total local food sales were through intermediated marketing channels from larger local food farms, many situated near urban centers.

The report did not provide specifics regarding consumer demographics for DTC marketing outlets. More often than not, DTC marketing outlets, like farmers’ markets, offer lower prices than grocery stores. But the data reveals that consumers are willing to pay a premium for local foods. ................(more)


Wolf Richter: The US Oil Bust Just Got Worse

via Naked Capitalism:

Wolf Richter: The US Oil Bust Just Got Worse
Posted on March 14, 2015 by Yves Smith

Yves here. Wolf was early to point out the disconnect between declining rig counts, which the mainstream media has touted as proof that the oil glut was about to end, and rising production. That pattern has not abated.

By Wolf Richter, a San Francisco based executive, entrepreneur, start up specialist, and author, with extensive international work experience. Originally published at Wolf Street.

The price of oil did today what it has been doing for a while: it waits for a trigger and plunges. As I’m writing this, West Texas Intermediate is down 4.4%, trading at $44.99 a barrel, less than a measly buck away from this oil bust’s January low. It’s down over 20% from the peak of the most recent sucker rally.

US oil drillers have been responding by slashing capital expenditures, including drilling, in a deceptively brutal manner. In the latest week, drillers idled 56 rigs that were classified as drilling for oil, according to Baker Hughes. Only 866 rigs were still active, down 46.2% from October, when they’d peaked at 1,609. In the 22 weeks since, drillers have taken out 743 rigs, the most dizzying cliff dive in the data series, and probably in history:

You’d think this sort of plunge in drilling activity would curtail production. Eventually it might. But for now, the industry has focused on efficiencies, improved drilling technologies, and the most productive plays. Drillers are trying to raise production but with less money so that they can meet their debt payments. Thousands of wells have been drilled recently but haven’t been completed and aren’t yet producing. This is the “fracklog,” a phenomenon that has been dogging natural gas for years. ............(more)


Why Governor Cuomo’s Education Proposals Are As Bad for Students As They Are for Teachers

from The Nation:

Why Governor Cuomo’s Education Proposals Are As Bad for Students As They Are for Teachers
Leah Brunski on March 13, 2015 - 12:26 PM ET

Last week, I issued the following challenge to a dozen third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders: create a paper airplane that flies farther than your peers’. We worked our way through the design process, brainstorming and sketching ideas, talking about the science of flight, crafting prototypes. We tested our planes, worked collaboratively to make revisions to the original designs, and shared our insights and conclusions. By the period’s end, each kid had a plane that flew significantly farther than her first.

Thanks to an in-house enrichment program at my school, these kids and I meet weekly to explore design challenges and engineering-oriented thinking that extends well beyond the curriculum. If Governor Cuomo’s budget—into which he quietly tucked several major changes to education—passes unrevised, schools across NYS will be forced to permanently forsake programs like this along with content not emphasized on the state exams, like social studies, creative writing, the arts, and social-emotional learning.

NYS families, the clock is ticking. On April 1, the NYS legislature will vote on Governor Cuomo’s budget, including his latest reforms to the state’s public-school classrooms. One of Cuomo’s proposals is to overhaul the way teachers are evaluated.

Under the current evaluation system, students’ progress on the state exams accounts for 20 percent of a teacher’s annual rating. Cuomo is proposing that we increase the weight of student test-score gains to 50 percent. (He’d like the other 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation to come from classroom observations: 35 percent based on a one-time visit from an outside evaluator and a mere 15 percent based on her own principal’s assessment of performance.) .................(more)


Thom Hartmann: Why TPP Will Be A Disaster for Americans

Published on Mar 13, 2015

Neil Sroka, Democracy for America joins Thom. Just like every other so-called free trade deal - the Trans Pacific Partnership is a raw deal for the American people. So why is Congress doing everything in its power to make this bad deal a reality as soon as possible?

The Public Bank Solution to Government Debt and Budget Shortfalls

The ECB’s Noose Around Greece: How Central Banks Harness Governments

The ECB’s Noose Around Greece: How Central Banks Harness Governments
Posted on March 10, 2015 by Ellen Brown

Remember when the infamous Goldman Sachs delivered a thinly-veiled threat to the Greek Parliament in December, warning them to elect a pro-austerity prime minister or risk having central bank liquidity cut off to their banks? (See January 6th post here.) It seems the European Central Bank (headed by Mario Draghi, former managing director of Goldman Sachs International) has now made good on the threat.

The week after the leftwing Syriza candidate Alexis Tsipras was sworn in as prime minister, the ECB announced that it would no longer accept Greek government bonds and government-guaranteed debts as collateral for central bank loans to Greek banks. The banks were reduced to getting their central bank liquidity through “Emergency Liquidity Assistance” (ELA), which is at high interest rates and can also be terminated by the ECB at will.

In an interview reported in the German magazine Der Spiegel on March 6th, Alexis Tsipras said that the ECB was “holding a noose around Greece’s neck.” If the ECB continued its hardball tactics, he warned, “it will be back to the thriller we saw before February” (referring to the market turmoil accompanying negotiations before a four-month bailout extension was finally agreed to).

The noose around Greece’s neck is this: the ECB will not accept Greek bonds as collateral for the central bank liquidity all banks need, until the new Syriza government accepts the very stringent austerity program imposed by the troika (the EU Commission, ECB and IMF). That means selling off public assets (including ports, airports, electric and petroleum companies), slashing salaries and pensions, drastically increasing taxes and dismantling social services, while creating special funds to save the banking system. ...............(more)


In the Age of Inequality, We Must Rethink the Education Status Quo

In the Age of Inequality, We Must Rethink the Education Status Quo

Friday, 13 March 2015 00:00
By Ruth Boyask, The Conversation | News Analysis

A new generation is starting their working life in an age of inequality. The income of 22 to 30-year-olds is projected to be 7.6% lower in 2014-15 than it was in 2007-8, according to new analysis of median incomes from the Institute for Fiscal Studies. But they estimate incomes will be 2.5% lower for those aged 31 to 59. And now messages about the problems of inequality from the spheres of global finance and economics are converging on a similar path.

There has been a recognition among many prominent financial organisations, institutions and economists that unrestrained capitalism is the source of the world's widening economic inequality. Resolution lies in a fairer distribution of material and cultural resources among the less well-off in society.

For some time, researchers have recognised how education systems sustain and reproduce these material and culture inequalities. In a blog post last year on the educational entitlement of troubled and troublesome young people for the British Educational Research Association's (BERA) project Respecting Children and Young People, education researcher Pat Thomson claimed:

Educational researchers, many now derided and dismissed out of hand, have systematically documented how particular curriculum, pedagogies and assessment practices combine with the administrative processes of schooling to produce and reproduce both educational privilege and disadvantage. The same system leads to both success and failure.

Derision of messages from educational researchers by politicians such as the former education secretary Michael Gove seem symptomatic of a deeper malaise in public life. .......................(more)


Chicago: Zero Explosives, 1 Arrest and 2.6K Bags Checked by Cops at CTA Stations

IL: Zero Explosives, 1 Arrest and 2.6K Bags Checked by Cops at CTA Stations


March 12--Chicago police have checked 2,500-plus bags and packages, made 1 arrest and found zero explosives in the four months since they launched a random screening program at CTA train stations to check for riders who might be trying to carry out a terrorist attack.

The single arrest came in January when, police say, a man refused to have his bag checked and then tried to enter the turnstiles at a Brown Line stop, police spokesman Marty Maloney said.

On Nov. 3, police began random bag checks at busy CTA stations during morning and evening rush hours. The program, which is paid for through a federal grant from the Transportation Security Adminstration, has no end date, Maloney said. In that time, police checked more than 2,600 bags and packages at 40-plus CTA stations.

"The primary purpose of this program is deterrence, with the secondary goal being to detect the presence of explosives," Maloney said in an e-mail. Maloney did not know the cost of the program. ...............(more)


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