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

Journal Archives

Urban designers are from Mars, transit planners are from Venus

from the Human Transit blog:

urban designers are from mars, transit planners are from venus

Just got home from the Congress for the New Urbanism Transportation Summit, which is trying to formulate transportation policy and advice from a New Urbanist point of view.

Over the last decade, the CNU has made great efforts to form a coherent view on transportation. The organization's core has always been an architecture and urban design perspective that is very much about placemaking, and only secondarily about movement. Much New Urbanism is about slowing everything down in urban environments, and while the goal of increased urban density means that ultimately travel distances are shorter, slower movement can also mean reducing people's ability to get where they're going. For example, much of the idea that transit should be slower (e.g. Patrick Condon, Darrin Nordahl) has roots in early CNU thinking. This in turn can feed the perception (unfair but not totally unfounded) that the pastel people in a New Urbanist rendering are more a hermetic cult of utopians than free actors in a complex society who need to get to meetings on time.

Initially, transportation -- specifically highway engineering -- was CNU's number one enemy, and this conflict still generates some of the best drama. The summit this year featured a conversation between an AASHTO representative -- representing the view of State Departments of Transportation -- and a New Urbanist transport consultant, in which common ground was sought but lines in the sand were clearly drawn on both sides.

So the CNU's efforts at leadership in transportation policy are a very important move. Groups at the conference worked on issues such as cycling, functional street classification (sexier than it sounds), and the conversation of highways to boulevards. I was in the group dealing with transit networks. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.humantransit.org/2012/09/transit-planners-are-from-mars-urban-designers-are-from-venus.html

Bain’s Birth by Death Squads

from In These Times:

Bain’s Birth by Death Squads
Romney scrutinized over investments from Salvadoran families that ran a corrupt government, 12 years of murderous civil war and death squads.

BY Terry J. Allen

Mitt Romney has a debilitating condition that won’t show up in his medical report: severe cognitive dissonance—simultaneously holding conflicting ideas, beliefs and values.

His problem goes deeper than routine hypocrisy and expedient “flip-flopping.” Romney believes that free enterprise serves justice and the public good—and that he and Bain Capital embody beneficence. He also believes that people like him, and businesses like his, make it on the strength of their bootstraps.

And yet the arc of Mitt Romney’s life and wealth betrays the delusions inherent in those myths. First, of course, he was advantaged by birth into a wealthy, powerful family. And then, in 1984 when he started Bain Capital, the company that made him rich, he got significant help from a source antithetical to his Mormon principles—members of Salvadoran families that ran a corrupt government, 12 years of murderous civil war and death squads.

During the civil war, some members of the Salvadoran ruling families sought safe haven for their assets—and asses—in Miami. In 1984, Romney, seeking cash, visited this popular harbor for storm-tossed Latin American oligarchs. The Salvadorans, along with other Latin Americans, invested somewhere between $6.5 million and $9 million in Bain (sources differ), accounting for 33 to 40 percent of outside capital. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13807/bains_birth_by_death_squads

31 states outlaw gay marriage. But this election offers four opportunities to stop bans.

from OnTheCommons.org:

The Times They're a Changing. Or Are They?
31 states outlaw gay marriage. But this election offers four opportunities to stop bans.

September 17, 2012 | by David Morris

The recent colorful tirade by Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe against a legislator who demanded the Baltimore Ravens owner fire linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo for supporting gay marriage and the overwhelmingly positive response to it by football fans and players alike are heartwarming developments. It shows how far we’ve come.

But, the fact, voters in 31 US states have already approved constitutional amendments to outlaw gay marriage, usually by wide margins, shows how far we have to go. However this fall voters in four states—Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Washington—will have an opportunity to reject similar bans on same sex unions

The path from prejudice to understanding and acceptance has been much smoother in other countries. Eight European countries have legalized same sex marriage, including predominantly Catholic countries like Portugal and Spain. In Europe this is not a left-right issue. The new Socialist-led government in France promises to legalize same sex marriage next year. The Conservative-led government in Britain will introduce similar legislation.

On this continent, in 2000 the Canadian Parliament, by a wide margin, banned same-sex marriage. Five years later, after a series of court decisions overturned bans on same-sex marriage in several Canadian provinces the nation’s legislators revisited the issue, reversed themselves and legalized same-sex marriage. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://onthecommons.org/magazine/times-theyre-changing-or-are-they

Attention Java Junkies -- drink 'em if ya got 'em

New Study: Your Morning Cup of Coffee Could Relieve Pain
The report from Norway says the caffeine in coffee appears to alleviate physical discomforts.

As if research hadn't already shown a number of benefits from your morning cup of Joe — help in weight loss, reducing the risk of Alzheimer's Disease and certain cancers, to name a few — now comes a new study from Norway indicating coffee can also alleviate pain.

The study by BMC Research focused on whether coffee could relieve the aches and pains of office workers who sit for long periods at their desks. It focused in particular on office tasks that "provoke pain in the neck and shoulders and forearms and wrists."

It found that study subjects who drank coffee before performing office-setting tasks had less pain in those areas than study subjects who didn't drink coffee. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://malden.patch.com/articles/new-study-your-morning-cup-of-coffee-could-relieve-pain-f475cf43

Milk's nutritional value debated as we consume more

from USA Today, via the Detroit Free Press:

Consider a glass of milk.

Familiar, safe, evoking childhood memories of dunking cookies or cafeteria lunches with school friends. Cool, refreshing and good for you.

Maybe. While some consider milk a nutritional powerhouse, others see it as unnecessary for good health and question the rationale behind some government-related programs that try to help the marketing of milk.

"When I was growing up, drinking milk at every meal, I had a chronic upset stomach," cookbook author Mark Bittman wrote in his New York Times blog in July. As a teenager, that worsened into chronic heartburn and acid reflux, which led to a dependence on medications and a series of attempts to relieve his esophagus with other remedies. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.freep.com/article/20120918/FEATURES08/120918011/Milk-s-nutritional-value-debated-as-we-consume-more?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Occupy movement bears fruit (chart)

from YES! Magazine:

Frances Fox Piven: Occupy's protest is not over. It has barely begun

Occupy's protest is not over. It has barely begun
It's mistaken to write Occupy's obituary this first anniversary: the lesson of history is that movements for justice are irrepressible

Frances Fox Piven
guardian.co.uk, Monday 17 September 2012

A good many observers wonder, is Occupy over? After all, the encampments that announced the movement a year ago have largely disappeared, and no obviously similar protest demonstrations of young people have taken their place, at least not in the United States.

Nevertheless, I think the ready conclusion that the protests have fizzled is based on a misconception of the nature of movements, a misconception influenced by the metaphors we rely on. We think of these eruptions as something like explosions, Fourth of July fireworks perhaps that shoot into the sky, dazzle us for a moment, and then quickly fade away. The metaphor leads us to think of protest movements as bursts of energy and anger that rise in a great arc and then, exhausted, disappear.

In fact, no major American movement of the past fits that description. The great protest movements of history lasted not for a moment but for decades. And they did not expand in the shape of a simple rising arc of popular defiance. Rather, they began in a particular place, sputtered and subsided, only to re-emerge elsewhere in perhaps a different form, influenced by local particularities of circumstance and culture.

Movements that may appear to us in retrospect as a unified set of events are, in fact, irregular and scattered. Only afterwards do we see the underlying common institutional causes and movement passions that mark these events so we can name them, as the abolitionist movement, for example, or the labor movement or the civil rights movement. I think Occupy is likely to unfold in a similar way. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/17/occupy-protest-not-over

Jamie, don't go away mad. Jamie, just go away.

from HuffPost:

Jamie Dimon likes banks just the size they are, thank you very much.

During Barclays’ Global Financial Services Conference on Tuesday, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase defended too big to fail banks in a fireside chat of sorts.

"There are huge benefits to size,” Dimon argued, adding that the large size of his bank allowed it to be “a port in the storm” during the 2008 financial crisis, according to The New York Times. “Big banks have a function in society."

Dimon’s comments come just a couple of months after Sandy Weill, the former Citigroup CEO famous for helping to create the Wall Street giant, said in a stunning reversal that it might not be such a bad idea to break up big banks. Former executives at Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and other banks have also said they’re in favor of big banks breaking up their various units. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/jamie-dimon-big-banks_n_1875507.html

California Soccer Moms Face Off against Monsanto

from YES! magazine:

California Soccer Moms Face Off against Monsanto
A grassroots coalition of California citizens has an initiative on the ballot to require the labeling of genetically modified organisms. While Monsanto and other corporations have spent tens of millions to silence them, the initiative seems likely to succeed.

posted Sep 14, 2012

In November, California voters will decide whether or not retailers will be required to label foods made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The choice they make on Proposition 37 will have ramifications for the future of food across the United States.

In one corner of the ring are corporations with deep pockets and a stake in maintaining the non-labeling status quo: Monsanto, a manufacturer of GMO corn and soybeans; Dupont, which makes pesticide and herbicides; and companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, and General Mills, all heavily reliant upon GMO crops.

On the other corner are small organic farmers, environmental organizations, and a grassroots army of thousands of volunteers. It’s Big Ag versus the people of California.

So what’s the big deal with GMOs? The debate over the harms or lack thereof associated with these crops could occupy an article ten times the length of this one, but a few key points are worth repeating. Genetically modified organisms aren’t just wheat with a few tweaks. Some of the “modifications” seem straight out of a science-fiction nightmare, like Monsanto’s GMO sweet corn. Spliced into the genome of this plant is bacterial DNA that causes it to produce its own insect-killing poisons. The safety of these products is questionable because no testing has been done to determine what happens when these mutant foods enter the human body. And the effects we do know about aren’t encouraging. Increasing numbers of peer-reviewed studies show clear-cut health risks associated with GMO products, including allergic reactions. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/california-soccer-moms-face-off-against-monsanto-gmo

Seymour Hersh, Jeremy Scahill, Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian in Conversation

Published on Sep 13, 2012 by TheNationInstitute

This June 3 Town Hall event launched two books: Jeremy Scahill's Blackwater in an updated paperback edition, and Chris Hedges' and Laila Al-Arian's Collateral Damage in hardcover.

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