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Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 70,152

Journal Archives

Much Of North Dakota's Natural Gas Is Going Up In Flames

(NPR) North Dakota's oil boom isn't just about oil; a lot of natural gas comes out of the ground at the same time. But there's a problem with that: The state doesn't have the pipelines needed to transport all of that gas to market. There's also no place to store it.

In many cases, drillers are simply burning it.

"People are estimating it's about $1 million a day just being thrown into the air," says Marcus Stewart, an energy analyst with Bentek Energy. Stewart tracks the amount of gas burned off — or flared — in the state, and his latest figures show that drillers are burning about 27 percent of the gas they produce.

While that percentage has been declining, Stewart says the overall amount of wasted gas is still rising as more oil wells are drilled. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.npr.org/2014/01/30/265396179/much-of-north-dakota-s-natural-gas-is-going-up-in-flames

As 'mass transit' Super Bowl nears, more disabled trains and delays

Four days before what has been dubbed “the first mass transit Super Bowl,” NJ Transit trains into and out of New York Penn Station are subject to residual delays of up to a half-hour tonight because of a disabled train outside the station, plus earlier power problems and a smoke condition involving the third rail in the East River tunnel.

That followed a night in which an NJ Transit train carrying 27 passengers was stuck for nearly four hours in the Hudson River rail tunnel because of a downed overhead power wire. The stranded Northeast Corridor Line train that was heading to New York around 10:30 p.m. was rescued by a Long Island Rail Road train about 2:15 a.m. today after a rescue attempt by a diesel locomotive was unsuccessful, officials said.

Also, this morning, a Midtown Direct train carrying 800 passengers lost power for an unknown reason near Secaucus and was stranded for about 90 minutes, officials said. The train left Dover at 5:01 a.m. and was headed to New York City. A rescue train towed the disabled train to Hoboken and the passengers took a PATH train to the city, officials said.

The disabled train tonight was a Midtown Direct train on the Morris and Essex Line. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2014/01/as_mass_transit_super_bowl_nears_more_disabled_trains_and_delays.html

Group files to bring back Eastern Air Lines

(CNNMoney) Plans are underway to bring back Eastern Air Lines, a once iconic airline that last flew in 1991.

Eastern Air Lines Group has filed an application with the Department of Transportation to start service once again. Approval from the department and Federal Aviation Administration is a drawn-out process that can take at least 12 months to complete.

But Ed Wegel. CEO of the group, said the airline hopes to start flights by December of this year. It expects to take delivery of its first plane, an Airbus A320, in August or September.

The airline will be based in Miami. Wegel said no decisions have been made on initial routes, but that the airline plans to restart as a provider of charter services initially, and then build into scheduled service at a yet-to-be-determined date. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/30/news/companies/eastern-airlines/

TSA chief says no to arming airport screeners

On Thursday, the head of the Transportation Security Administration visited Los Angeles International Airport, the site of a Nov. 1 shooting, where he rejected the idea of arming TSA security officers.

TSA chief John Pistole visited LAX to announce the opening of an enrollment center where passengers can submit background information to apply to use faster screening lines.

When asked about the Nov. 1 shooting that killed TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez, 39, and wounded three others, Pistole said he had rejected the idea of arming TSA agents at the screening gates.

Shortly after the shooting, the union representing 45,000 federal security agents called for the creation of a class of armed TSA officers with law enforcement training and the authority to arrest people. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.latimes.com/business/travel/la-fi-mo-tsa-chief-says-no-to-arming-airport-screeners-20140130,0,5174412.story#ixzz2rzX2PB3I

Mass. Holds Hearings On $12B Transportation Spending Plan

BOSTON — The state is moving forward on a massive transportation spending plan that lays out how Massachusetts will spend money on infrastructure over the next five years.

Authorities say it’s first of its kind in Massachusetts — a $12 billion road map on what the state wants, how to get there, and what it will cost — down to the last dollar.

There’s $1.3 billion to extend the Green Line, with the first part of it expected to open in 2017.

Some $250 million will lay the groundwork, literally, on restoring commuter rail service to Fall River and New Bedford. ........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.wbur.org/2014/01/30/transport-funding-plan

Disney’s Magic Kingdom Losing Its Sparkle For Workers

(In These Times) As workers prepare to negotiate new labor agreements at Walt Disney World, some union members are wondering whether the magic has disappeared from the “happiest place on earth.”

The resort’s largest labor contract, which covers some 35,400 workers, is due to expire at the end of March. Though formal negotiations toward a new agreement haven’t yet begun, says Ed Chambers, president of Lakeland, Fla.-based United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1625, there are already signs of difficulties ahead.

Chambers leads a coalition of six different union locals known as the Service Trades Council, which will hammer out new contracts with Disney in the coming months. According to Chambers, the council saw its first clear signs of unrest in August 2013, when resort managers offered to extend the existing contract for another 16 months and raise wages 3.5 percent. Though the council ultimately declined the offer, he says, some union leaders are now unsure whether Disney can be convinced to improve on it.

Jeremy Cruz-Haicken, president of hospitality union Unite Here Local 737—also a member of the Service Trades Council—argues that Disney’s offer just didn’t do enough to protect workers. The proposed wage hike was better than unions have gotten from Disney in other recent contracts, he tells Working In These Times, but it’s still less than what workers deserve. ..............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/16188/magic_kingdom_losing_its_sparkle_for_workers/

Hated on the Left, the TPP Draws Conservative Foes

(In These Times) “The President said, if you like your health insurance, you can keep it,” says Curtis Ellis of the American Jobs Alliance, a small conservative group based in Virginia that opposes the outsourcing of U.S. jobs overseas. “Now essentially, with Obamatrade, he’s saying, if you like your job, you can keep it.”

If “Obamatrade” catches on as a right-wing rallying cry against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a trade agreement covering the Pacific Rim economies of Australia, Japan, Malaysia, among others—it will probably have something to do with a sparsely attended press conference on Tuesday in the House Science Committee hearing room. That’s where the American Jobs Alliance and the United States Business and Industry Council—pro-business groups wary of trade’s impact on America’s national interests—joined with Tea Party Nation and the socially conservative Eagle Forum to rail against the TPP and President Obama’s support for “fast-tracking” the measure. The legislative procedure would prevent Congress from amending the agreement once it’s completed by international negotiators. Without fast-track, Congress is considered unlikely to approve the deal in its current form.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid came out against the existing fast-track bill, but that doesn’t quite mean it’s dead. A “yes” vote in the House could put enough pressure on the Senate to take action or legislators could choose to craft a gentler version of the bill that appeals to Reid—one that allows more time for debate, for example.

Most opposition to the TPP has come from the organized Left, which worries that “NAFTA on steroids” will undermine key environmental and health protections and hasten the flight of good-paying jobs abroad. Earlier this week, a coalition of more than 550 different labor unions, environmental groups and consumer advocacy organizations condemned fast-track in a letter to Congress. That’s in addition to Reid and the 151 House Democrats who came out against the procedure in November. By contrast, only 23 House Republicans have done so. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16196/rightwing_coalition_opposes_tpp_calling_it_obamatrade/

Kshama Sawant: The Great Red Hope

(In These Times) Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant ended her inauguration speech on January 6 with an exhortation to the voters who had just elected her as the country’s only socialist politician: “To all those prepared to resist the agenda of big business—in Seattle and nationwide—I appeal to you: get organized.” If her election is going to catalyze bold reforms in Seattle, she has said repeatedly, it will require a strong movement behind her. And yesterday, she put her money where her mouth is by announcing that she would accept only $40,000 of her $117,000 salary and donate the rest to a fund to build social justice movements.

Running as a member of the Trotskyist party Socialist Alternative, Sawant was unusual among leftist candidates around the country for her audacity. She did not run as a “protest candidate,” simply raising issues about the bankruptcy of our political system, but rather as someone who believed she could win. Incredibly, in November 2013, she did.

Sawant faces a tough slog in implementing her progressive agenda, which includes a $15 minimum wage, rent control and an income tax on the wealthy to fund better public transit, among other goals. Business interests will fight any kind of minimum wage boost, as they did in the nearby town of SeaTac, where a corporate-backed lawsuit convinced a judge to partially overturn a $15 minimum wage passed by voters.


In the past, you’ve said pushing the Democratic Party to the left is not enough, that there is a need to go beyond that. How will your City Council position build toward something bigger for the Left, whether in Seattle or nationally?

The election of an open socialist in a city council in a major city in the United States is absolutely phenomenal. But we should not make the mistake of thinking, “Well, you know, maybe there’s something unique about Seattle.” The conditions that made this campaign successful exist everywhere. Other cities are probably in worse shape. People don’t need to be convinced that their conditions are bad; they need to be convinced that there is an alternative. They need a shot in the arm. You do that by building small, successful campaigns that generate confidence. We have shown that it’s possible for the Left to bring people together to make concrete demands and start building a movement. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16140/kshama_sawant_the_great_red_hope/

David Sirota: Billionaires Attempt To Convince Society That They Are The Good Guys

from In These Times:

Billionaires Attempt To Convince Society That They Are The Good Guys
America’s rich see themselves as victims of Nazi-like persecution.

BY David Sirota

The rich have never been richer and the poor keep getting poorer. The financial Masters of the Universe enjoy indefinite taxpayer-funded bailouts, while the social safety net for the poor is gutted. The ruling class that engineers crushing economic inequality gathers at the World Economic Forum in Davos to pretend to care about said inequality, and then promises no concrete actions to combat the crisis. Many high-income earners pay a lower effective tax rate than low-income earners, and IRS data show that in the last few years the rich have seen a steep decline in the share of taxes they pay.

And if you think there’s a problem with any of this, you’re a Nazi. At least according to the poor, put-upon oligarchs.

The latest fat cat to compare critiques of inequality to violent National Socialism is venture capitalist Tom Perkins—he of the $150 million yacht and the 5,500-square-foot San Francisco penthouse. In a letter to the Wall Street Journal editor, this Silicon Valley billionaire last week bewailed supposed “parallels” between Nazi Germany’s “war on its ‘1 percent,’ namely its Jews” and “the progressive war on the American 1 percent, namely the ‘rich.’” Citing rising angst over inequality, he insisted: “This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?”

From this skewed perspective, the 85 people who now own as much wealth as 3.5 billion people aren’t the big winners. They are instead a persecuted diaspora being exterminated by Hitler. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/16204/dont_pity_the_billionaire/

Laura Flanders: To Truly Address Inequality, Let's Build a People-Centered Economy

from YES! Magazine:

To Truly Address Inequality, Let's Build a People-Centered Economy
The high-tech hubs and natural gas drilling the president called for in his state of the union speech aren't the answer to our economic woes. Instead, we need to follow the leadership already coming from communities, workers, and small-business owners.

by Laura Flanders
posted Jan 30, 2014

President Obama got one thing right in his State of the Union address. "It is (we) the citizens who make the state of our union strong."

Just look at his speech. After years of saying the word "poverty" fewer times than any president in memory (and talking about the middle class more), here was Obama talking about inequality and workers stifled by low wages. That's thanks to public activism.

"Inequality has deepened"; "No one who works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty." The president's best applause lines were lifted from protest signs. Now "citizens" (and would-be citizens) will have to come up with solutions too, because his won't take us very far.

Take that minimum wage hike for federal workers. Ten dollars and ten cents an hour is nice, but $20,000 a year is hardly a ticket out of poverty, even if you can find a full-time job in the public sector. The demand on the street, in case the president missed it, has been for $15 an hour, and the right to bargain collectively so workers have some power. (On Twitter that's #Fightfor15 or #raisethewage.) ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.yesmagazine.org/new-economy/to-truly-address-inequality-let-s-build-a-people-centered-economy

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