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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 72,733

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Organic food: Still More Than an Elitist Lifestyle Choice


from Civil Eats:


Organic food: Still More Than an Elitist Lifestyle Choice

September 12th, 2012
By Twilight Greenaway


It happens like clockwork; every few months, a rant against local and/or organic food appears in one of the papers of record. The author is nearly always an educated man who uses the words “elite” and “elitist” at least 175 times while defending today’s corporate food system and implying directly or indirectly that changes to the status quo—which often inherently begin with those who can afford to make them—should be seen as suspect at best, and downright damaging at worst.

There was James McWilliams’ 2009 book, Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, and the whole array of anti-locavore screeds that accompanied it in the Atlantic and The New York Times. And among the many others that have come since were James Budiansky’s 2010 claim that locavores needed math lessons and Canadian academic and author Pierre Desrochers’ recent book, which argues that “locavores do more harm than good.”Then last week, Roger Cohen, a British columnist for The New York Times and its European counterpart, the International Herald Tribune, joined the chorus by calling organic food a fable. In the op-ed, which was prompted by a Stanford University mega-study which questioned the nutritional value of organic foods and topped theTimes’ most-emailed list over the weekend, he took an all-too-familiar tone:

Organic has long since become an ideology, the romantic back-to-nature obsession of an upper middle class able to afford it and oblivious, in their affluent narcissism, to the challenge of feeding a planet whose population will surge to 9 billion before the middle of the century and whose poor will get a lot more nutrients from the two regular carrots they can buy for the price of one organic carrot.


Ah, there they are again—those narcissistic, organic-eating straw men we all know and love. But Cohen doesn’t stop there. He dismisses organic as an “effective form of premium branding,” compares feeding your child organic baby food to sending them to private school, calls it an “elitist, pseudoscientific indulgence shot through with hype,” and returns to the oh-so-familiar assertion that organic can’t possibly feed our growing population in the years to come. It’s along these lines that he cries out: “I’d rather be against nature and have more people better fed.” ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://civileats.com/2012/09/12/organic-food-still-more-than-an-elitist-lifestyle-choice/



Profitable or Not, China Doubles Down on Investments in New Metro Systems


from the Transport Politic blog:


Profitable or Not, China Doubles Down on Investments in New Metro Systems

Yonah Freemark
September 11th, 2012





With China’s growth slowing — a product of internal economic changes as well as the continued poor performance of the U.S. and Europe — the country’s government has decided to accelerate investments in its cities’ rapid transit networks as part of a larger transportation infrastructure program. About $127 billion (or 800 billion yuan) is to be directed over the next three to eight years to build 25 subways and elevated rail lines as a stimulus whose major benefit will be a increase in mobility for the rapidly urbanizing nation.

Though China’s high-speed rail network (now the largest in the world) has garnered most of the headlines when it comes to transportation there, the nation’s investments in urban rail have been just as dramatic and serve far more people on a daily basis. Its three largest metropolitan areas — Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing — feature the world’s fourth, fifth, and sixth most-used transit systems, providing more than five million rides each daily, more than similar networks in New York or Paris. Most of these cities’ lines opened since 2000.

The high ridership of the lines that have been built thus far, however, have not brought operational profitability to these systems, as Stephen Smith highlighted in an article this week. On Shanghai’s very extensive system, just one of eleven lines are able to cover their operations and maintenance costs — let alone pay back initial capital expenses used to build the lines. Meanwhile, construction costs have increased and cities paying for their completion have had to scale back their ambitions.

Yet the government does not accept the premise that a transit network that requires subsidies is necessarily a problem, at least based on its willingness this month to extend advance (and therefore heavily subsidized) loans to municipalities building transit lines. In general, the new national aid, which comes in the form of very reduced borrowing costs, will allow for the fast-tracking of projects already in the pipeline, much as Los Angeles has hoped to do with its transit projects. On average, 42% of financing will be directed from local governments, with the rest financed by banks, all benefiting from the lower bond rates. Costs will be eventually covered through long-term tax revenue. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2012/09/11/profitable-or-not-china-doubles-down-on-investments-in-new-metro-systems/



Profitable or Not, China Doubles Down on Investments in New Metro Systems


from the Transport Politic blog:


Profitable or Not, China Doubles Down on Investments in New Metro Systems

Yonah Freemark
September 11th, 2012





With China’s growth slowing — a product of internal economic changes as well as the continued poor performance of the U.S. and Europe — the country’s government has decided to accelerate investments in its cities’ rapid transit networks as part of a larger transportation infrastructure program. About $127 billion (or 800 billion yuan) is to be directed over the next three to eight years to build 25 subways and elevated rail lines as a stimulus whose major benefit will be a increase in mobility for the rapidly urbanizing nation.

Though China’s high-speed rail network (now the largest in the world) has garnered most of the headlines when it comes to transportation there, the nation’s investments in urban rail have been just as dramatic and serve far more people on a daily basis. Its three largest metropolitan areas — Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Beijing — feature the world’s fourth, fifth, and sixth most-used transit systems, providing more than five million rides each daily, more than similar networks in New York or Paris. Most of these cities’ lines opened since 2000.

The high ridership of the lines that have been built thus far, however, have not brought operational profitability to these systems, as Stephen Smith highlighted in an article this week. On Shanghai’s very extensive system, just one of eleven lines are able to cover their operations and maintenance costs — let alone pay back initial capital expenses used to build the lines. Meanwhile, construction costs have increased and cities paying for their completion have had to scale back their ambitions.

Yet the government does not accept the premise that a transit network that requires subsidies is necessarily a problem, at least based on its willingness this month to extend advance (and therefore heavily subsidized) loans to municipalities building transit lines. In general, the new national aid, which comes in the form of very reduced borrowing costs, will allow for the fast-tracking of projects already in the pipeline, much as Los Angeles has hoped to do with its transit projects. On average, 42% of financing will be directed from local governments, with the rest financed by banks, all benefiting from the lower bond rates. Costs will be eventually covered through long-term tax revenue. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2012/09/11/profitable-or-not-china-doubles-down-on-investments-in-new-metro-systems/



When Rule of Law Meets Politics


from Consortium News:


When Rule of Law Meets Politics
September 11, 2012

Holding national security officials accountable for torture and other crimes against humanity may seem like the right thing to do when it’s someone else’s country. But U.S. politicians keep finding excuses when the abusers are American, observes the Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland.

By Ivan Eland


One of the most important issues in the 2012 election is a non-issue because both parties want to ignore it: punishment for Bush-era human rights violations by torture.

Nevertheless, in a country where the rule of law (that is, we are all supposed to be equal before the law) should be paramount, it is vital that such uncomfortable episodes be examined and, if necessary, prosecuted. Yet the CIA has been put above the law.

The episode is similar to President Gerald Ford’s holding of former President Richard Nixon above the law with an unconstitutional pardon for his Watergate crimes before Nixon had even been convicted of any of them.

Although this protection from prosecution is similar to that of the Justice Department’s protection of CIA torturers, at least President Ford’s pardon was justifiably unpopular with the American people and contributed to his defeat in his 1976 candidacy. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/09/11/when-rule-of-law-meets-politics/



David Korten: Growth or Equality: Two Competing Visions for America’s Future


from YES! Magazine:


Growth or Equality: Two Competing Visions for America’s Future
David Korten on how closing the wealth gap can open the way to a fairer, more prosperous economy.

by David Korten
posted Sep 11, 2012


The current political debate in America hints at an unspoken, but profoundly important choice between two radically different visions of the path to prosperity for all.

* One vision holds that inequality is an essential and beneficial precondition to unleash the economic growth needed to end poverty and heal the environment. Freeing the rich from taxes and cumbersome regulation will unleash a wave of productive investment, job creation, and prosperity that eventually will trickle down to enrich us all.

* The other vision holds that inequality bears a primary responsibility for the political, economic, social, and environmental failures that threaten the future of America and the world. America already has the world’s largest economy and one of the world’s highest per capita income levels. Further growth for growth’s sake is not the answer. Our priority need is to reallocate and redistribute our economic resources to get the outcomes we really want.


Equality: The Evidence

British epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson has done an exhaustive review of the evidence on the relationship between the distribution of wealth and indicators of physical, mental, and social health across and within countries. His research demonstrates that on virtually every indicator, more equal societies enjoy more positive outcomes than less equal societies. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/david-korten/growth-or-equality-two-competing-visions-for-americas-future



David Korten: Growth or Equality: Two Competing Visions for America’s Future


from YES! Magazine:


Growth or Equality: Two Competing Visions for America’s Future
David Korten on how closing the wealth gap can open the way to a fairer, more prosperous economy.

by David Korten
posted Sep 11, 2012


The current political debate in America hints at an unspoken, but profoundly important choice between two radically different visions of the path to prosperity for all.

* One vision holds that inequality is an essential and beneficial precondition to unleash the economic growth needed to end poverty and heal the environment. Freeing the rich from taxes and cumbersome regulation will unleash a wave of productive investment, job creation, and prosperity that eventually will trickle down to enrich us all.

* The other vision holds that inequality bears a primary responsibility for the political, economic, social, and environmental failures that threaten the future of America and the world. America already has the world’s largest economy and one of the world’s highest per capita income levels. Further growth for growth’s sake is not the answer. Our priority need is to reallocate and redistribute our economic resources to get the outcomes we really want.


Equality: The Evidence

British epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson has done an exhaustive review of the evidence on the relationship between the distribution of wealth and indicators of physical, mental, and social health across and within countries. His research demonstrates that on virtually every indicator, more equal societies enjoy more positive outcomes than less equal societies. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/blogs/david-korten/growth-or-equality-two-competing-visions-for-americas-future



Have residents of Minnesota's 6th congressional district finally tired of the circus freak?





from Salon.com:


Despite her national fan base and a massive war chest, Rep. Michele Bachmann may be in more danger than most suspect, with a new poll showing her lead diminished to just 2 points. Independent voters have swung against her by nearly 20 points in just two months, from a 4 percent advantage to a 15 point disadvantage. The internal poll, conducted by Democratic pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner at the behest of Democrat Jim Graves’ campaign and shared with Salon, shows that Bachmann’s favorability rating has tumbled since their last survey in mid-June, and finds Graves gaining ground with independents as his name recognition grows.

Overall, the poll shows Bachmann leading Graves 48-46 percent, within the margin of error. The race has moved significantly among independents, with a 20-point net shift toward Graves, from a 41-45 percent disadvantage in June to a 52-37 percent lead now. Among independents, Bachmann’s favorability rating has slipped 4 points while her unfavorability rating has jumped 7 points. Overall, she’s viewed mostly negatively. Among all voters, 40 percent give her a positive job rating, while a sizable 57 percent give her a negative one, with a plurality of 35 percent giving the most negative answer possible — “poor.”

Graves’ campaign manager (and son) Adam Graves told Salon that the numbers show his candidate is well positioned to beat Bachmann. “Obviously, we’re very excited about it. The first thing that’s notable is that obviously her recent comments, the stories that she’s created for herself, have really hurt her among folks in the middle,” he said. Bachmann, who had tried to keep a lower profile after aborting her presidential bid, grabbed headlines this summer for her implication that Muslims in the U.S. government may be secret agents of the Muslim Brotherhood. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2012/09/10/poll_bachmann_in_danger/



Cities By the People, Cities For the People



from On The Commons.org:



Cities By the People, Cities For the People
A conversation with David Harvey, eminent geographer, commoner, radical and champion of our right to the city

September 8, 2012 | by Chris Carlsson



......(snip)......

Chris Carlsson: Who did you write Rebel Cities for?

David Harvey: My aim was to write a book for everyone who has serious questions about the qualities of the urban life to which they are exposed and the limited choices that arise, given the way in which political and economic power asserts a hegemonic right to build cities according to its own desires and needs (for profit and capital accumulation) rather than to satisfy the needs of people.

In so doing, I wanted to provide indications of the kind of theoretical framework to which I appeal and I, therefore, use seemingly abstract (often, but not exclusively, Marxist) concepts. But my aim is to use these concepts in such a way that anybody can grasp them. (I don’t always succeed, of course.) I then hope that people might become interested to seek a deeper knowledge of the sort of framework that I use. For example, in “The Art of Rent,” I use a seemingly arcane concept of monopoly rent, but I hope by the end of the chapter people can understand very well what it might mean and wonder how it is that a society that lauds competition as foundational to its functioning is populated by capitalists who will go to great lengths to secure monopoly power by any means and how they capture unearned rents by resorting to that power.

......(snip)......

You write: “The chaotic processes of capitalist creative destruction have evidently reduced the collective left to a state of energetic but fragmented incoherence, even as periodic eruptions of mass movements of protest … suggest that the objective conditions for a more radical break with the capitalist law of value are more than ripe for the taking.”

For many people, targeting the “capitalist law of value” is terribly abstract. Can you rephrase that in terms that people can see and feel in their everyday lives?


I could substitute the phrase “capitalist law of value” with the phrase “the maximization of profit in a context of global competition” and then point to the devastating history of deindustrialization (more destruction than creation) from the 1980s across city after city, not only in North America, but also Europe and elsewhere (e.g. Mumbai and Northern China).

But I wanted to use the term “value” very explicitly to raise the question of what it is that capital values and how radically that contrasts with other ways of thinking about the values that might prevail in another kind of society. The capitalist law of value is what animates the activities of Bain Capital, etc. and we have to see that value system as profoundly opposed to human emancipation and well-being, that there is a distinctive “law of value” that capital internalizes and imposes that overrides all other values that stand in its path. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://onthecommons.org/magazine/cities-people-cities-people



Cities By the People, Cities For the People


from On The Commons.org:



Cities By the People, Cities For the People
A conversation with David Harvey, eminent geographer, commoner, radical and champion of our right to the city

September 8, 2012 | by Chris Carlsson



......(snip)......

Chris Carlsson: Who did you write Rebel Cities for?

David Harvey: My aim was to write a book for everyone who has serious questions about the qualities of the urban life to which they are exposed and the limited choices that arise, given the way in which political and economic power asserts a hegemonic right to build cities according to its own desires and needs (for profit and capital accumulation) rather than to satisfy the needs of people.

In so doing, I wanted to provide indications of the kind of theoretical framework to which I appeal and I, therefore, use seemingly abstract (often, but not exclusively, Marxist) concepts. But my aim is to use these concepts in such a way that anybody can grasp them. (I don’t always succeed, of course.) I then hope that people might become interested to seek a deeper knowledge of the sort of framework that I use. For example, in “The Art of Rent,” I use a seemingly arcane concept of monopoly rent, but I hope by the end of the chapter people can understand very well what it might mean and wonder how it is that a society that lauds competition as foundational to its functioning is populated by capitalists who will go to great lengths to secure monopoly power by any means and how they capture unearned rents by resorting to that power.

......(snip)......

You write: “The chaotic processes of capitalist creative destruction have evidently reduced the collective left to a state of energetic but fragmented incoherence, even as periodic eruptions of mass movements of protest … suggest that the objective conditions for a more radical break with the capitalist law of value are more than ripe for the taking.”

For many people, targeting the “capitalist law of value” is terribly abstract. Can you rephrase that in terms that people can see and feel in their everyday lives?


I could substitute the phrase “capitalist law of value” with the phrase “the maximization of profit in a context of global competition” and then point to the devastating history of deindustrialization (more destruction than creation) from the 1980s across city after city, not only in North America, but also Europe and elsewhere (e.g. Mumbai and Northern China).

But I wanted to use the term “value” very explicitly to raise the question of what it is that capital values and how radically that contrasts with other ways of thinking about the values that might prevail in another kind of society. The capitalist law of value is what animates the activities of Bain Capital, etc. and we have to see that value system as profoundly opposed to human emancipation and well-being, that there is a distinctive “law of value” that capital internalizes and imposes that overrides all other values that stand in its path. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://onthecommons.org/magazine/cities-people-cities-people



The Persecution of John Kiriakou: Torture and the Myth of Never Again


from TomDispatch:





The Persecution of John Kiriakou
Torture and the Myth of Never Again

By Peter Van Buren


Here is what military briefers like to call BLUF, the Bottom Line Up Front: no one except John Kiriakou is being held accountable for America’s torture policy. And John Kiriakou didn’t torture anyone, he just blew the whistle on it.

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

A long time ago, with mediocre grades and no athletic ability, I applied for a Rhodes Scholarship. I guess the Rhodes committee at my school needed practice, and I found myself undergoing a rigorous oral examination. Here was the final question they fired at me, probing my ability to think morally and justly: You are a soldier. Your prisoner has information that might save your life. The only way to obtain it is through torture. What do you do?

At that time, a million years ago in an America that no longer exists, my obvious answer was never to torture, never to lower oneself, never to sacrifice one’s humanity and soul, even if it meant death. My visceral reaction: to become a torturer was its own form of living death. (An undergrad today, after the “enhanced interrogation” Bush years and in the wake of 24, would probably detail specific techniques that should be employed.) My advisor later told me my answer was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise spectacularly unsuccessful interview.

It is now common knowledge that between 2001 and about 2007 the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) sanctioned acts of torture committed by members of the Central Intelligence Agency and others. The acts took place in secret prisons (“black sites”) against persons detained indefinitely without trial. They were described in detail and explicitly authorized in a series of secret torture memos drafted by John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury, senior lawyers in the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel. (Office of Legal Counsel attorneys technically answer directly to the DOJ, which is supposed to be independent from the White House, but obviously was not in this case.) Not one of those men, or their Justice Department bosses, has been held accountable for their actions. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175591/tomgram%3A_peter_van_buren%2C_our_9_11_torturers/#more



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